Imagine Dragons Win Over Blossom Crowd with Exuberant Energy

Concert Review

click to enlarge SCOTT SANDBERG
Scott Sandberg
Last night at Blossom, Imagine Dragons ignited the evening with the explosive “Radioactive,” their very first hit from their 2012 debut album, Night Visions. The summer sun was still up for the 8:15 p.m. start time, and the band seemed larger-than-life and almost too real in the harsh light of day.

You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here.

Shirtless front man Dan Reynolds wore black jeans and his skin glistened from the sweltering heat of the pavilion stage. The band’s energy was high as they transitioned into “It’s Time” and “Whatever It Takes.” Reynolds set out his intent for the night, which was to let go and be free, and he hoped the crowd would let go and feel free with him.

A piano appeared on the top level of the stage, and Reynolds gently began singing “Shots” with only the piano accompaniment. The tender moment quickly built as “Shots” transformed into the hard-pulsing album version of the track, Reynolds jumping and twirling around the stage as the crowd sang along. Next up, “Yesterday” and “Walking the Wire” treated the fans to the first of many confetti bursts of the night before Reynolds came back on stage to wish everyone a Happy Father’s Day. A father himself to three girls, he looked as if he was missing his daughters. Fittingly, the next track was “Next to Me,” a song with lyrics about never letting someone down.

To call Reynolds a singer is a gross understatement. He exorcises the lyrics from the pits of insides on his knees, birthing song after song. He sweats out the words with a visceral battle cry, his pure heart vibrating out his vocal chords. He crouches down and gets right in the faces of fans, locking eyes and singing directly to them. Reynolds is a unique human. On the outside, he looks like a Men’s Health magazine cover come to life. It could be easy to write him off as some smiley glossy beefcake, but that would be putting him into a box, a fate he desperately discourages. He has an incredible beast of a voice, but when he speaks, even though he is speaking to a sold-out venue, it feels as if he is speaking to each person individually. He knows how to connect and how to make fans feel like they are an integral part of this shared experience. He isn’t up there performing to have everyone just look at him; he is up there for everyone to truly see him, and in seeing him, they can maybe even see themselves. He’s like a mirror with a rippling chest, his voice a deep pool of pain, wisdom and hope.

Reynolds prefaced “I’ll Make It Up to You” by saying, “This is for all the lovers out there, and for those who aren’t in love, love is overrated anyway.” This had a slightly sad and jaded tone to it since Reynolds himself is going through a divorce right now. But the melancholy was gone for “Start Over” as neon rainbow lights enveloped the stage. Reynolds announced that Jared, the person in charge of their ear monitors, had just cracked his head open and was having his head stapled shut, all while still performing his job. Reynolds led a darkly funny “hip, hip, horray” chant for Jared, as we were all left to imagine poor bleeding Jared backstage with a staple gun to his head.

Finally, the sun went to sleep, handing off the source of light to the Reynolds and his crew. In the darkness, the blacklight effect of the stage glowed, making it feel all that much more electric, just in time for their big thumping hit, “Gold.” The hype continued for the tribal “I Don’t Know Why,” which brought the second huge confetti blast of the night. The hot pink confetti magnetized itself to Reynold’s drenched bare skin, the sweat turned glue, sticking itself to the tiny festive paper. Reynolds shouted to the crowd, “We must not live our lives in the constraint of a box! I will not be boxed! Let’s be free! Will you be boxed?? We must be free!!” That led the band into the catchy “Mouth of the River.”

Reynolds thanked the crowd and disappeared with the band backstage. The band quickly emerged, but not on stage. The guys were walking towards the back of the pavilion. Fans excitedly watched the band climb onto a small stage at the very back of the pavilion, allowing them to be smack dab in the middle of their fans. The band delivered a stripped-down acoustic set of “Amsterdam,” “Bleeding Out” and “I Bet My Life,” complete with the simple beauty of violin and a cello. Reynolds ventured out into the overstuffed lawn to touch fans hands and sing to them during “I Bet My Life”.

The band returned to the main stage for the haunted track “Demons.” During the song, Reynolds spoke to the crowd passionately about mental health. He said he rejects the stigma of depression. He proudly shared that he sees a therapist, and that he has been diagnosed with depression, and that it doesn’t make him weak. He urged everyone struggling to seek help and to remember that there is so much to live for. He didn’t come off as preachy but instead spoke from experience and with the purpose of touching the lives of his fans.

After the band delivered the raucous “Thunder,”giant white balloons descended from the ceiling for the poppy “On Top of the World,” which became the feel-good moment of the night. Reynolds joyously danced around the stage, an organic and instinctual movement of freedom and release. And just when it felt like the concert had reached its peak, the band took us even higher for the finale, a confetti-filled, smoke-blasting, balloon-bopping, pulsing light show for the mega hit “Believer.”